I’m trying to be a punster here, with Rak of Aegis, a hit comedy musical inspired by the songs of Aegis, a Filipino rock band, as my object. Admittedly, my husband and I weren’t too keen on the prospect of sitting it out for two hours to listen to their pipes-busting songs—the reasons we are not too fond of neighborhood videokes. That, plus the feeling of unease that we would stick out like wrinkled thumbs among the young crowd expected to fill PETA Theater last Sunday evening.
The fear was unfounded, it turned out. There were quite a number of oldies present that night, confirming that having danced and loved along the music of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Richie Valens, and many latter-day pop stars, seniors have earned the right to be there. Rock is in our soul.
This Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) production is now on its fifth run since it started in January 2014. Since then it has garnered over 20 awards and citations, including Outstanding Original Musical, Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Stage Direction, and Outstanding Original Libretto.
But PETA being what it is, one gets a lot more than what is expected of a record-breaking musical. Through songs, Rak of Aegis weaves a social commentary on poverty and struggle, commercial greed, and modern values, using the flood-submerged Barangay Venezia as the backdrop.
Aileen (Alisah Bonaobra), a young resident, dreams of instant success via YouTube and ultimately meeting Ellen DeGeneres. She sees it as her way of helping out her parents, Mercy (Kakai Bautista) and Kiel (OJ Mariano), whose source of livelihood is threatened when the shoemaking business in the barangay suffers as a result of the floods and tough competition. Kiel blames the flooding on the tree-cutting practice of a neighboring subdivision headed by developer Fernan (Gie Onida). Thus, he is constantly at odds with Barangay Kapitana Mary Jane (Sweet Tiongson).
There to help out Aileen pursue her dreams are her friend Jewel (Phi Palmos), suitor no. 1 Kenny (Vince Lim), and suitor no. 2 Tolits (Jerald Napoles). One day, when she loses her job as a promodizer, she sings her heart out in the rain. Tolits catches her outburst on video and posts it on YouTube. It goes viral and Aileen becomes popular.
Through the prodding of Fernan, Mary Jane convinces Aileen to stage a concert set at Barangay Venezia. But just as everything is ready for the commercial intent, the floods subside. The proposed concert is called off. A twist of fate makes the people of Barangay Venezia realize what really matters and leads them to a more viable solution to their plight. The result is a fitting finale that allows them to show their moves and put their best foot(wear) forward.
Rak of Aegis is a collective genius: Maribel Legarda (Director), Liza Magtoto (Writer), the PETA artistic and production staff, technical crew, and the cast. Worth every minute of your time, up to the end of the play when a voice-over asks the audience to “look under your seats.” Whatever for?
You have until August 28, 2016 to find out.
In the play bill, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) President Ogie Alcasid writes: “A show like Rak of Aegis is an embodiment of what we have to do as Filipinos—suportahan, tangkilikin at ipagbunyi po natin ang OPM!”
From Tuesdays to Fridays, shows are at 8 pm, and with 3 pm and 8 pm shows on Saturdays and Sundays. PETA Theater is at No.5 Eymard Drive, New Manila Quezon City.
For tickets, go to http://www.ticketworld.com.ph or call 891-9999 or contact PETA at 725-6244.